Two students who found a passion for pharmacy and each other

In celebration of Valentine’s Day, the WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences would like to feature one of the many couples who found their match in pharmacy school. Ryan Nottingham and James (Jimmy) Leonard found their passion for pharmacy and each other while pursuing their Doctor of Pharmacy degree. Hear their story and what they have been up to since graduating.

Ryan Nottingham (left) and Jimmy Leonard (right) wave the Cougar flag on their wedding day, June 25, 2016.

In 2016, Ryan Nottingham and James (Jimmy) Leonard sealed the deal –personally and professionally. Shortly after receiving their Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Washington State University, the two committed to spending the rest of their lives together on June 25, 2016, in a wedding embodying the Cougar spirit with a traditional wave the flag moment. Together, they offer their words of wisdom to future Cougar pharmacists entering the profession now.

“Remember that getting to your ideal job is often a long and winding path, with plenty of hard work. Make the best of opportunities that come your way, but also remember that you will grow from your failures as much as your successes,” the two shared in an interview with the college.

The two have seen their careers flourish over the years. Now on the other side of the country in Maryland, far from their roots in the Pacific Northwest, they find themselves excelling on their own unique paths.

Leonard now works for the Maryland Poison Center as a clinical toxicologist, assisting in patient care by consulting with health care providers to help diagnose, monitor, and treat poisonings. He also teaches at the Maryland School of Pharmacy, educating pharmacy students, physicians and others on how to diagnose and treat poisoning. When he’s not counseling patients, or teaching, Leonard spends his time researching looking at the epidemiology of poisoning, drug misuse and abuse, and outcomes from poisoning with specific medicines and other sources of poisons. On top of that, he also works part time at the University of Maryland Medical Center as a clinical specialist in the emergency department to help make pharmacotherapy decisions in real time.

“During school, we kept each other focused and pointed in the right direction. In our careers, we continue to support each other. We try to advise each other in projects, clinical care, and practical aspects of care almost every day,” said Leonard. “Having someone that understands your work and workday provides for an opportunity to have someone to celebrate and commiserate with!”

Nottingham’s career has also skyrocketed since graduating from the WSU Doctor of Pharmacy program. She currently works as a clinical pharmacist at LifeBridge Health as part of a critical care team providing recommendations and assistance for the hospital’s sickest patients. Working with the medication safety team, Nottingham also reviews medication errors to help the system prevent future mishaps.

“I love working side-by-side with the ICU team to care for vulnerable populations,” said Nottingham.

Together, the dynamic couple offer a few words of wisdom to future pharmacy students:

  • When you look at others in their roles, it’s easy to see them as having perfect jobs. It is crucial to know that many of us have made our jobs perfect over time. Don’t expect to walk into the perfect job but expect to make your job perfect for you.
  • WSU provided excellent opportunities outside of classes and rotations. We both had volunteer opportunities, jobs, and faculty with a diverse array of positions to model. Our advisors and faculty were also able to make connections and bring opportunities to the table to help us grow. Additionally, we were both part of the first year of residency block scheduling for fourth year and ended up matching where we had done multiple rotations.
  • Focus on school. As a student, your job is to learn pharmacy. Take all of the electives you can, learn about different roles in the field of pharmacy, and be open to making changes in your career “plans.